Yamoussoukro - Cote d'Ivoire — ECOWAS Member States have been urged to leverage established infrastructure financial mechanisms such as the Special Telecommunications fund and the Transport and Energy sector Development and Financing Fund, to address the serious infrastructure deficit in the region.
Addressing the opening of the Regional Ministerial Meeting on the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), in Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire, on Friday, 9th November 2012, Vice-President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh, named the other regional financial facilities that could help fast-track regional infrastructural development as the Special Bio-fuel fund and the potential ECOWAS-China Partnership Fund. While underlining the catalytic role infrastructure can play in the achievement of the ECOWAS Vision 2020, the Vice-President solicited stronger commitment and support to enhance the operations of the West African Power Pool, the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority, the ECOWAS Centre for the Promotion of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency as well as the West African Gas pipeline Authority and the ECOWAS Bank for investment and Development.
"We also would need greater support primarily in the area of national commitment and contribution to your infrastructure related regional institutions," he added. According Dr. McIntosh, given the role infrastructure can play in the effective transformation of the region's vast natural resources into value resources: "to do nothing or little, about infrastructural development within our sub-region is equivalent to self-strangulation."
He recalled the decision by the 41st Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, held in Yamoussoukro last June, which emphasized the critical role of an efficient infrastructural sector to improving the level of competiveness of industries and trade relations in West Africa, adding that heeding this call will enable the region to address its enormous infrastructural challenges. In her remarks, the African Union's Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr. Elham M.A. Ibrahim, commended the ECOWAS Commission and the Region for undertaking the formulation of the "regional infrastructure development plan in alignment of PIDA priorities, which is the right way to ensure a deep ownership of our common continental infrastructure agenda." The Commissioner made a special appeal to the Ministers to facilitate the signing and ratification of the African Maritime Transport Charter, which was adopted by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government in July 2010 in Kampala, Uganda. She described the document as "a product of the intensive work of maritime stakeholders in our States, RECs, AUC and key African organisations, and the main policy and strategic framework for maritime transport in Africa."
Declaring the PIDA Ministerial meeting open on behalf of Cote d'Ivoire's Prime Minister His Excellency Jeanot Ahoussou Kouadio, the Minister of Industry, Honourable Moussa Dosso, said that infrastructure would play a pivotal role in facilitating access to landlocked countries, free movement of persons and goods, making economies in the region competitive and thereby boosting socio- economic integration. He therefore urged the Ministers to examine with great interest the proposals by the meeting of infrastructure experts, which preceded the ministerial session, and also appealed to development partners and donors to support the PIDA. The Yamoussoukro meetings are aimed at highlighting the objectives of the PIDA and how it aligns with the continental strategic programming.
They are also intended to sensitize Member States on West Africa's component of the PIDA Priority Action Plan (PIDA-PAP) and regional development plans to help drive the domestication of PIDA projects in national plans and budgetary provisions. Adopted by the African Union and NEPAD leaders in January 2012, PIDA is based on an assumption that with a projected annual economic growth rate of 6% for African countries, GDP for all countries will grow six times and the average per capita income will rise above US$10,000 in the next 30 years with anticipated increase in the infrastructure demand in all sectors.